Monday, December 7, 2015

Second Lesson or "Jumps may be smaller than they appear"

Saturday was my second lesson with Windsor, and also a welcome party for the other new German horse in the barn.  That translates to more fun both in and out of the saddle since for the second week in a row we had champagne and baked goods in the tack room (a totally civilized norm if you ask me..)

I continue to adore working around this horse.  He's sweet and snuggly, and very relaxed about people being around him.  He's a tad mouthy... but I think that might have more to do with having been a stud as it does with being spoiled...

Regardless, it's enjoyable, and I appreciate that the time on the ground is already easy and comfortable.  It took a while to get there with Prair (and maybe a tad longer with Pia), but I love being able to move around my horses with ease. 

The only reason this post will end up being even slightly interesting is because Supermom was able to come out and actually take some pictures/videos of us :)

We started off with our pretty normal flatwork warmup - light lateral work, again really focused on getting his right hind up under him.  I am working on figuring out how to get him up and back without just scrunching up his neck. 

This is apparently really, really hard for me.  It's also making it obvious how much I relied on Prair's ability to really hold a steady contact.  Windsor is so much lighter in the rein, and less educated on balancing, that when I half halt he ducks behind the bit... and I lose my aids to push into.  I know I need to push and not pull into balance, but its weird when it feels like there isn't anything to push into.

So there's lots of work to do there for both of us.  Look forward to lots variances on this theme in future posts :)

Canter work again worked on coming forward.  We worked over two poles, set at an easy 5 strides.  The struggle for me is carrying pace and keeping balance through the turn and having a bouncy adjustable stride.

Windsor has a great, bouncy, adjustable stride when you just leave him alone.  But when you start trying to negotiate said balance or pace, he flips into a bit of what I will (lovingly) call "Jumper Mode" which essentially involves him saying "stop it lady, I can do this better on my own."

He's not rude, or overly excited.. but he does tense his jaw and lock me out so that he can go engage his autopilot. 

Making progress on this negotiation will probably take a while and I'll have to prove that I have something to actually add to the conversation before he softens and totally listens when there is a jump or pole on the horizon.

Also - I should note at this point that even when we are going over a pole (or a few poles rolled together in this instance), I sort of get jumped out of the tack a tad. 

Maybe "jostled loose" is a more accurate description, but something happens and I end up feeling like a goober and tipping into my knee (this will be more relevant when we start jumping).

After we finished working through the poles both directions, we started to work over fences.  Again, we started with two small verticals on the diagonal. And again, they were pretty easy. 

I have a short clip, and I want to point out that over the second fence, I thought I set us up for a flyer (or whatever you would call an obscenely long distance at 2').  So I was surprised when not only was it an acceptable enough distance for my Trainer to allow us to walk after, but on video it looks totally normal.

I think I need to figure out how to sight in on this "holy-crap-this-is-gonna-be-long" distance and not take him where I want to be (which looks a little tight and crappy). 

I mean, a little leg and that would look like a deliberate, tactful ride (I think).

Then we worked through the small like again (trot fence in, small vertical out), and again we stopped the first time at the trot fence.  I *really* thought I had it this time too.  Second time we were totally ok and got through it, but wtf.  I can't quite figure out why I'm dropping him on the first approach.
Trot jump, WHEE
So, this is where I will return to my comment about getting jumped out of the tack.

I swear, these fences feel twenty seven feet tall on this horse. 

And I don't mean that because he is scrambley and heaves himself at the jump, or even that they look big to my eye.

I mean they feel big because when he rounds over the top, it feels like he's cracking his back over a max height, max spread oxer in the Olympics. 

It makes me want to lay down on his neck and put my automatic release down at his chest because, omg, obviously he needs his neck.

Then I watch the videos and I'm confused because a) the jumps are not large, and b) he is obviously not even trying.

Like, not even a little bit. 

Not Large.
Not Trying. (well, he's not anyway)

It's just me, feeling like I'm getting popped out of my tack and letting my heel creep and then landing in a heap on his neck.  

Clearly we have things to work on.

Because I am constantly trying to keep my ego out of this, (though sometimes it's hard) here are a few clips of the line.  It started about 2'6" and we ended at 3'6", though I don't have a clip of that.  You can use your imagination though - just take my loose, kinda sloppy self and add another 3" of slop to it, lol.

(again, in both of these you can see I'm taking him to what looks like a good distance to me... but really we could stand off it a tad more and show off his form better)

I mean, there's lots to love about this.  He's slow, he's balanced, he lands really nicely.  I have zero concerns.... but from a riding standpoint - I have a ways to go. 

I suppose that was the theory with this horse.  I knew I was buying something that I could relax over the fences on and actually work on myself with.  Good thing I have lots to bring to the table for that!

Anyway, I still am in love.  He's cute. He's polite, I can tell that we are "going to get there" but I'm slightly worried that he's not going to even pretend to pick his knees up unless we are in the 3'6" ring... and well... I am not ready to be headed in there anytime soon.  Gulp.

blurry Brad is blurry


  1. Did he get gelded before he was shipped over?

    He looks great! I think you're being hard on yourself. I can't wait to read more about all of your adventures with him. He's lovely!

    1. Thank you!!
      He was actually gelded about a year ago, so we didn't have to worry about that..
      I'm not sure I would have had the guts to geld an approved stallion :)

    2. Gotcha! For some reason I thought he was still a stallion. I guess it must have been one of the other brads!

  2. I think you guys look great. Cut yourself some slack!

  3. When I think of balancing a horse, I can hear is GM yelling "leg-hand" from my recent auditing experience. Half halt is only outside rein and not until legs are on.
    Brad is lovely!!! Maybe your saddle sits you different on him with his jump? I can't do Antares on my mare, I'm launched into her neck, but my CWD sits me back more which works with her flatter, more downhill jump, maybe you need the opposite? Not to start you tack shopping lol. ;)

    1. I for sure have my leg on. but any hint of outside rein to "catch it" and he scrunches his neck up. I think our problem is a) I need to adjust my ratio of aids form what I'm used to) and b he needs to figure out the question I'm asking.

      Also... re tack shopping.. I sorta am. My cwd bridges terribly on him, but they are coming out to see what they can do next week.. In the meantime I'm in my trainer's Voltaire, which is a much closer contact, but maybe not helping me out... we shall see!

  4. You guys look amazing! I bet that's a hard jump to ride because he's so ROUND, but you really make it look nice!

    1. honestly, at the top of the (not that large) jump, all I see is dirt.

      His neck feels like it totally disapears. I'm used to Prair's big long neck staying up in front of me!

    2. There's something comforting about long necks.

  5. I'm still failing at coming up with real words for your unicorn. Everything is just so easy for him. <3

  6. I'm as obsessed with Gray Brad as you guys look GREAT! I adore his expression, and looks like everything is so chill to him and he takes it all in stride (no pun intended). The 'getting jostled loose' in the tack will stop when you guys get to know each other more, but you're a sharp-looking pair already!

    And can we please talk about how much I LOVE that blue saddle pad on him? I think you've found "his color" :)

  7. 1 -- you can totally step into the 3'6" ring tomorrow and maybe mentally you might have a gulp you would both be physically absolutely fine!

    2 - he's lovely, you really bought a nice horse and you already know that but I want to say it again and again and again

    3 - Carlos was a stallion until 6 and bred and really freaking mouthy until the day he died (also terribly spoilt)

  8. Ditto two L's 1 and 2 above. Yeah you will get stronger/tighter as your relationship progresses, but don't write off 3'6" you will be awesome!

  9. Give yourself a little time to get used to his jump. I think you both look great. I went through the same thing when I got my gelding last year. I was SO used to my mare's jump that I had a hard time getting used to my gelding, who is much scopier and powerful than my mare. At first, I felt like I was going to fall on the landing side of every jump, but eventually got the hang of it. I found that the more relaxed I was, the easier it was to stay with him over big jumps. If I got tense and thought about "hanging on", I'd get jumped out of the tack.

  10. lol he sounds a little bit like my mare - super easy to duck behind the contact and get behind my leg, and she'll crack her back over the merest of cross rails haha. seriously tho, it looks so easy for him and you both already look like a great team

  11. The learning curve will be fun wih this one and so different to your previous ladies.
    Best of luck with the saddle fitters return next week, crossing my fingers for a positive outcome

  12. He is so, SO lovely! And don't be hard on yourself! My pony jumps the ever-loving-snot out of little jumps too, but the great thing about that is that it forces you to learn to be correct in your position to stay with it! Plus, then 2'6 and 3'6 feel pretty much the same! ;) Congratulations on him again, you picked such a great horse!

  13. If I recall correctly, your horse was a show jumper jumping 1.4m. 1.2m is 4ft, so what you are doing in your lessons is the equivalent of asking someone with a math degree to do middle school maths. He really doesn't have to try and appears smart enough that he does just enough to get over, even when hes chipped in too close, which is what it looks like he sees the 'hunter approach' as doing.

    disclaimer - this is from a former low/mid level (1.2-1.3m) show jumper from NZ, that didn't think a horse should need to canter unless the jump was over 3ft... I didn't do well in hunter classes!

    1. ha! I agree with your point - the jump heights are (clearly) no problem, but I do disagree slightly. It feels more like I'm asking the kid who's naturally smart and never had to study, to learn his times tables and do some homework... He is definitely athletic, but really (reeeaaallly) lacking an education on the flat. He's never really been asked to use his body well or to be supple laterally. So on one hand, his new job is really easy, but on another its really tough for him in a new way... Regardless it is *really* nice to know he can bail me out at the jumps without trying too hard!

      Also, I will note that Typically the Hunters want to see a long "gap" to the fences. I tend to ride up on the deep side, so even with my other horses this is a challenge.. but it will be eve more so with him!


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